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"More health/leisure club than spa…"
DH booked a suprise weekend for myself and my best friend - he knows a spa break is always a winner. We actually live about 15 minutes away and I've been to Henlow before for day spas. Two DC later and a night stopping over didn't seem frivalous at all - I skipped there.
The outside of Henlow and the grounds are really impressive, but inside it's not quite there. The property has certainly had a revamp since I was last there 2 years ago, but it really does have feel more akin to a leisure club rather than a spa, alas the price for a night away was v much more spa. So you need to manage expecations so as not to be disappointed.
Little things let it down: there were no complimentary slippers in our room, we had to walk to the boutique with everyone else to trade our ticket in for free flip-flops. Slippers were £2 extra. I realise how precious that sounds, but on an overnight break, I'd expect them in the room.
The boutique was dated and didn't sell bottled water (no where did annoyingly), the fitness desk was often closed and there were not enough loungers by the pool. We discovered the next day you need to be there by 10.00 to nab a spot.
Our treatments were fine, nothing outstanding but nice all the same. I would have LOVED to book more, but annoyingly Champneys don't tell you what times you're booked in for until you arrive so only once you've got that info, plus the class/activities programme can you figure out where you have some free time.
The good points - the food was outstanding. Amazing. Really really good. The old house lounge and conservatory were lovely and relaxing too. I did sleep incredibly well too (that might have been the wine with dinner) and came home feeling relaxed, so it certainly wasn't all bad,
Would I recommend it? Hmmm, if you got an offer then yes, but not at full price. There are many other spas now open in the area which probably offer better value for money.Read moreLess
"Very, very disappointing…"
This is a copy of an email I sent to Champney's Henlow after my stay there recently and the reply I got. I just want to point out I have stayed a quite a few spa hotels (including Champney's Forest Mere and Henlow) over a number of years and never felt it necessary to post a complaint until now. In my opinion this is not a luxury spa and doesn't deserve the title. Some of the reviews saying how great it is leave me flabbergasted. I can only assume that they are virgin spa goers and have nothing to compare the service with. Also as a trained therapist myself I can honestly say the therapists I experienced on this trip were somewhere between less than average and very inexperienced.
THE EMAIL I SENT
To whom it may concern
I have a number of complaints to make relating to my traditional week stay in a superior room at Champney's Henlow arriving 8th July. I would like to confirm that I did voice some complaints at the beginning of the week as I was extremely upset, disappointed and disturbed. I received an apology and a gift of Champney's products which was very nice but unfortunately something that I will not use due to your use of parabens and EDTA in your products. By mid week I had decided I would not return here again and just to try and make the best of it. Also I would like you to note that this was a very important week for me to be relaxed and chilled out as I am having major surgery next week. I would also like to give you the chance to recompense me before I post my complaint on Tripadvisor and other sites.
Note also that I had previously booked extra treatments online and asked that they not be arranged during the yoga classes as I intended to attend as many as possible.
Sunday 8th Arrived about 2.45. Had to carry own bags from car after waiting outside for 10 minutes as no one was around to greet me.
Received treatment schedule and 7 out of 10 treatments had been arranged during the yoga classes. I asked that they be rearranged not to coincide with yoga classes explaining that I had put it in writing previously. I was told that was no problem as it was not very busy that week. That just tells me that whoever arranged the treatments couldn't be bothered to do as I requested.
Monday 9th Booked for colon hydrotherapy. No one advised me where to go and after asking a number of staff members who didn't know either I had to ask at the front desk. Treatment was fine but wasn't for the 85 mins advertised. Treatment lasted 1 hour. Got back to room and the patio was sectioned off with red tape as there was a bee problem and a trap was set up. I was told I couldn't open the door or use the patio and that the bee man would come in the afternoon and remove them. I found the chair in the room very badly stained and asked the front desk if it could be changed. I went for my inclusive facial and massage but just had the massage as I couldn't use Champneys products and there was no other choice. Massage was disappointing. Couch cover was damp and therapist just saturated me in oil and didn't really use any traditional massage strokes. I returned to room to find the door had been left open by whoever changed the chair. I called front desk and told them the door doesn't shut on its own and whoever goes in and out needs to pull the door to close it. They said they would make a note. I mentioned that the bulb had gone in the bathroom. I went to lunch and on return I found my door left open again. Whoever replaced the light in the bathroom had left it open. I informed the front desk again that it was left open. The bees had not been removed. After dinner I decided I would relax in a bath as I was quite wound up by now about the door being left open twice and as I went to plug the bath I noticed it was filthy with a dark scummy ring all around it. It clearly hadn't been cleaned from the previous occupants. As housekeeping were not around (it was past 9pm) I voiced my disgust at the front desk and ended up showering in the spa.
Tuesday 10th Still had the bee problem so still couldn't get any fresh air in the room or use the patio. I asked to be moved to another room. At this point I was seriously considering packing my bags, asking for a refund and checking out but I didn't want my husband to know I was distressed as he knew how important this week was to me. I was moved down the corridor to another room which was opposite rooms being refurbished so I had drilling and hammering going on most of the time but at least I could use the patio and open the door for fresh air. However the sink had black mildew all around the rim and the metal bath plug was cracked and splintered which I thought potentially dangerous.
Wednesday 11th I had another inclusive treatment which was better than the last but the therapist was 10 minutes late and didn't make up the time at the end.
Thursday 12th There was a hair on the melon that I picked up from the buffet. I informed the waitress and she shrugged and said these things can't be helped with people leaning over the food. I disagreed with her as there is glass covering the food and no one can fit there head under there, it had to have come from the kitchen. In the evening I pulled a hair out of my mouth after taking a spoonful of my meal and it didn't belong to me.
Friday 13th Inclusive massage - I was taken up two flights of narrow stairs to a freezing corridor which had a huge hole in the wall where it had clearly collapsed due to heavy water damage. The room was dank and cold and the therapist turned the heating on. I lay on the couch and the cover was wet. The therapist disappeared for 5 minutes and returned saying we could use another room so we went back downstairs. She assured me the time lost would be added to the treatment which it wasn't. She used her knuckles just over my upper back and shoulders for the whole massage which was quite unpleasant.
Saturday 14th - checked out. I considered raising the complaints on checkout but as I had a long drive on the motorway I didn't was to be upset or stressed so I decided it would be better to put it in writing after I got home.
I would appreciate acknowledgement of this email and your response by close of play Monday 16th July.
THIS IS THE REPLY I GOT
Further to your recent visit to Champneys Henlow, may I apologise for the problems that you incurred and for the delay in responding to your complaints.
We strive to improve our standards and services and are always grateful for feedback, whether positive or negative, therefore may I take this opportunity to thank you for writing to us and for completing our on line guest questionnaire.
We have made a full investigation of the issues that you have raised and have reports from Treatments and Main Reception on some of your concerns. The Resort Manager was on resort during the time that you were here and you did not request to speak with her which is a shame as she would have been more than happy to take your comments on board.
The bee issue was something that was very serious and it was for our clients safety that the rooms were closed. The situation did take longer than anticipated for us to rectify but I am glad to say that nobody was stung. I understand that you were given another room and a complimentary gift to apologise for the inconvenience but you must realise that this is something that we cannot be held responsible for.
Whilst the Resort Manager would like to consider some form of compensation, her hands are unfortunately tied as the Director, Mrs Purdew, reads all questionnaires and does not take kindly to threatening emails. Therefore unfortunately we will be unable to pursue your complaints any further.
NOTICE HOW THEY GO ON ABOUT THE BEES WHICH WAS OUT OF THEIR CONTROL AND SAY NOTHING ABOUT THE SECURITY, POOR TREATMENTS AND LEVEL OF CLEANLINESS?
I wish I had paid a bit extra and gone to Ragdale Hall which has always been excellent on the 4 occasions I have been there previously. You live and learn I suppose.Read moreLess
"This was a lovely birthday surprise so I was determined…"
This was a lovely birthday surprise so I was determined to enjoy it, but given the name and reputation of the spa, I wasn't 100% impressed with the set up.
On the day we were there, the ladies' steam room wasn't switched on, and the treatments - although good - weren't anything out of the ordinary. It had a bit of a industrial feel to it, with hordes of clients sitting in a reception area, being called up by the therapists. The pedicure I had lasted less than 2 weeks, whilst when I had had one locally it had been baked on under some sort of UV lamp and lasted a month.
The food was good, and lashings of it too (if you weren't there for weight loss), however the evening menu was very limited - either veggie, fish, or chicken. I know red meat is not healthy eaten in abundance, but a little bit wouldn't have hurt. The puddings were more of an "amuse bouche" too. Perhaps I wasn't entering into the "health" spirit of the spa - more interested in being pampered, relaxing and eating well. If that's what you want, perhaps this is not the best spa for you.
Accommodation was good, fairly spacious and clean, but very impersonal. Grounds around the house are stunning and very relaxing. Overall, probably not worth shelling out huge sums for, but good if they're doing an 'offer'.Read moreLess